Of Spirits and Sanctuaries

Full Moon Puja

Spiritual Sanctuaries are unique places.  In this realm, this place where we wake and dream,  sleep and walk, Sanctuaries are profoundly special. For as solid as they are in their appearance, made of earth, trees, air, water, and buildings, they are Transcendent.

They hum at a different vibration, a different pitch.  And they will vibrate you towards the Unconditional,  for they are  imbued with the Transmission of the Spiritual Being who has Blessed and worked and conformed the elements of that  particular Sanctuary to be a means of sensitizing and awakening other to the Realization of That which is not separate, That which is prior to the ordinary sense of separate I  and the unconscious  activity of identifying with persona.  Why?  Compassionate service.  Service to the world. A service that offers individually and collectively an opportunity t0 be touched by and be moved toward what is greater than oneself.

For the last eight years I was graced to serve at such a place.  My Spiritual Master,  Adi Da Samraj, has established five such Sanctuaries.  Each Sanctuary differs in how they work with an individual, yet each are steeped in his Presence and move people toward understanding and transcending that which makes us small.

Sanctuaries are necessarily set apart, protected and served in a particular way so the Transmission inherent in them  is preserved and magnified. They are formal places, with spiritual protocol.  There are practical needs of course, but those needs are performed in a posture where spiritual practice is first and this in turn helps maintain the integrity of that Sanctuary.  There does not tend to be a lot casualness,  a lot of coming and going by those who are not sensitive to this.  That is not meant as a policy of exclusivity, but rather as a means of allowing the Sanctuary to do its vibratory work of service to all in an unhindered manner.   After all, when you get the oven at the right temperature, you don’t open and close the door unconsciously.  There are times where the Sanctuaries are open and people come on retreat. There are times when access is fasted, and the Sanctuary is simply cared for via bodily service and invocation.

And we of human form are not the only ones who wish to come to such places.  At Da Love Ananda Mahal, on the island of Kauai, there has always been a history of active spirits.  In the Hawaiian culture that is certainly the case so it is natural for there to be occasions of spirits making themselves known.

There is one particular site on the Sanctuary on Kauai that has been set aside for the spirits.  Many years ago,  devotees who lived in one of the few buildings on the property, reported being visited by several spirits.  No one could hear footsteps, yet devotees who were asleep in the end room, could hear each door opening and closing in the middle of the night, as if someone was poking their head in looking for someone.  And indeed that is what happened.  The door to the last room finally opened and a Hawaiian Kahuna and his female partner came in, looked around and left.  There had been no footsteps because they  floated slightly above the ground.

Needless to say there were a few freaked out devotees.  No one felt threatened. But spirits are spirits and simply not human so they tend to be unnerving in their unfamiliarity.  There is a reason the hair stand ups on the back of your head.

Adi Da was informed of this. He said he was aware of them, that they had been associated with the land there for a very long time.  He informed us they were looking for the current chief (or Tui) of the land,  which would be he,  Adi Da.  In the older times,  in the Hawaiian custom it was inappropriate for someone  to approach the Tui directly. What was proper was to go through certain channels and be formally introduced.  Adi Da said this is what those spirits were doing when visiting Frog Mound. They were looking for someone to introduce them.

So we were instructed to establish a holy site  at Da Love Ananda Mahal where spirits who wished to make contact with Adi Da and continue their own spiritual practice could do so. It wasn’t for devotees who lived or visited there but specifically for the spirits.  It was for them but it was also instruction  to us in how a True Spiritual Master teaches and Blesses and moves beings in all dimensions and planes.  Particular instructions were given as to how to serve this site and that is continued to this day.

There are other outdoor holy sites at Da Love Ananda Mahal.  Each one uniquely different in how it functions  in its Invocation of Spiritual Blessing  and how it not only serves a person’s  spiritual practice but serves to magnify World Blessings  that mitigates negative situations.

One of these sites is called Fire Keeper.  It is where fire pujas are performed. A puja is a ceremonial form of devotional attention, or worship and invocation. A fire puja is very elemental, purifying in nature, and a potent means of releasing obstructions, freeing attention and magnifying sensitivity to that which is Unconditional.

Da Love Ananda Mahal is surrounded on two sides by dense jungle and one side by the wild Wailua River.  Fire Keeper is in a corner of the Sanctuary where jungle is immediately on one side and 50 feet away on the other side, the land drops sharply to the river below.  It is profoundly elemental, elegantly primitive.  There you most certainly feel that you are not at the top of the food chain.  You are humbled, you are part of the whole, you are not the one in charge.

On a full moon evening, around 2:00 am I was offering a fire puja.  I was alone.  It was a clear night.  The river was roaring, arising in a  stillness greatly magnified by the time of night.  In our tradition, prior to the start of a puja or any occasion, we offer an invocation. We also offer one to formally end the event.  Everything was prepared and I was standing in front of the fire pit, ready to sit down and start the puja.  Suddenly, the hairs stood up on the back of my head.  In the perimeter of the jungle, where the cut lawn of the Sanctuary grounds meets the jungle, I strongly felt I was being watched.  It felt like a number of beings had come to the edge of the jungle and were standing there, gazing at me.  My first reaction was fear. I took a breath – their presence  was not menacing.  Good.  Releasing attention from the movement towards fear and turning into the Presence of my Spiritual Master, I spontaneously said out loud, “Now let us offer the First Great Invocation”.

Then an amazing thing happened.  The spirits ( who I could not see but could definitely feel) glided out of the jungle.  There was literally a slight breeze as they went past me, three to my right, three to my left, and took their seats behind me. I was breathing quite deeply at that point, believe me.  Very grounding so as not to run type breaths.

They sat down, I sat down.  I began the puja.  Once the puja formally started, the fire lit,  I could not sense them any longer and forgot they had even been there.   The puja was done in forty minutes or so.  I sat longer  in deep meditation, overwhelmed by the down pouring of Blessing that was occurring.

Afterwards  I realized the spirits were being very formal.  They were waiting to be invited to join the puja.  The invitation to offer the invocation was what they were waiting for.  Spiritual Sanctuaries are special places.  Especially Da Love Ananda Mahal.  Sacred Ground.  The Hawaiian spirits knew that.  And respected it.

Temple Adi Da at Da Love Ananda Mahal. Mt. Waialeale in the background.

May all beings be Blessed,



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